My jazz songs are very much in the Bebop tradition. Many of them are what we call "contrafacts:" fresh melodies fitted into the structures and harmonies (sometimes somewhat altered) of existing tunes. "Satsuma," for example, is based on "Tangerine," the old popular song from the 1940's; "Green Bossa" is based on the Kenny Dorham chestnut "Blue Bossa;" "There's No Grater, Luv" comes from "There Is No Greater Love." Other tunes make use of quite familiar harmonic and structural material, but not all from a single source. So "Modest Proposal," for example, uses something very close to the harmony of "Cherokee" in the main, repeated part of the melody, but the progression on the bridge is similar to one used several times by Dizzy Gillespie ("Dizzy Atmosphere," "Eternal Triangle"). And others veer farther from familiar paths, such as "Stray Cat," "Ode to Joe," and "Another Sign."
I have assembled here 19 of my tunes, heads only--no solos! The songs and start times are:
1. Can't Stop the Bop (0:00); 2. All the Right Moves (0:42);
3. Dolce (1:59); 4. Satsuma (2:46); 5. Another Sign (3:42);
6. Modest Proposal (6:18); 7. Ode to Joe (6:58); 8. Stretch (8:06);
9. Even Though We Already Did a Blues (8:47); 10. There's No Grater, Luv (9:42); 11. Green Bossa (10:27); 12. Stray Cat (11:36)
13. Mitosis (12:38); 14. Nyrac (13:08); 15. Bobbles and Mangles His Reeds (14:27); 16. Ethnomethodology (15:16); 17. Rouse's House (15:52); 18. Clineblatt Flat (16:49); 19. China McQueen (17:38).
Like the Bebop-era musicians I most admire, I am a big fan of what is sometimes called "The American Songbook." These are the great tunes of the 20th century, and I interpret the term to include popular songs, songs written for Broadway shows and Hollywood movies, and tunes composed by the great jazz masters. When preparing these standards for performance, one challenge I face is settling on an arrangement that is faithful to the original composition but that also includes fresh, distinctive, original touches. Sometimes this involves introducing a unique rhythmic interpretation of the song (12/8 for "Stella," samba for "My Old Flame" and "You Are Too Beautiful"); at other times I might reharmonize a melody ("Indian Summer" and "Stella"); sometimes the arrangement has involved issues of orchestration involving the instrumentation of a particular ensemble (the two ballads: "Porkpie Hat" and Chuck Metcalf's lovely "The Touch of You").
Here are six of my arrangements, again heads only. Songs, composers, and start times:
1. The Touch of You, Chuck Metcalf (0:00)
2. Indian Summer, Victor Herbert (3:14)
3. My Old Flame, Sam Coslow & Arthur Johnson (4:49)
4. Goodbye Porkpie Hat, Charles Mingus (6:23)
5. Stella by Starlight, Victor Young (7:33)
6. You Are Too Beautiful, Rodgers & Hart (9:04)